Unsane really shouldn’t require any introduction.
The New York City natives have been grinding their way around the world since 1988 (we will ignore that time off between 2000 and 2003), with only a few line-up changes along the way. That is a long time for any band, let alone a noise rock/hardcore band as these bands normally have the life span of an albino newt.
Sterilize is the 8th album to be released by Unsane and their first for new label Southern Lord Records. It comes five years after Wreck and I am ashamed to say that I have not listened to anything from Unsane since Visqueen was released on Ipecac in 2007. Not for any reason, I just missed Wreck when it was released. But I have always held them in high regards, you cannot help but admire a three piece that can be this noisy.
Over the years, Unsane’s influence on the scene has been undeniable.
You can hear them in bands such as Whores and Converge, they are the ever-present Godfathers of Noise in the hardcore/punk scene. I am sure if they ever stopped, everyone in the world would notice the drop in reverb. But after 29(ish) years around the globe, what do they bring to the table with Sterilize?
If you have heard an Unsane album before, you know what you are going to hear with Sterilize.
There are no big surprises, there are no acoustic moments, no ballads, no dubstep, nothing out of place. What you have is an album filled with riffs, massive bass, thumping drums, the howling vocals of a man with a point to prove and a groove that you could place the foundation for a new house. They have their own formula and they do not mess with it, that is something I admire and applaud. There are plenty of bands out there who change their styles to find the current music fashion, Unsane just keep on looking ahead.
The music on Sterilize is as heavy as you would expect, with a steady line of songs to take your frustration upon. The deviation between songs is slight if I am honest, but that is not the point with Unsane. The point is that the songs sound massive, which they achieve on every single track. I love the tone of the guitar throughout this record, the pitch of the vocals is aggressive without sounding hallow, the drums are big, but it is all down to the bass. That sound is the calling card for me on any Unsane album, always has been, always will be. On Sterilize, they play that card and have made it louder than before.
If you are looking for something different from Unsane, you are going to be upset.
“Lung” is going to be nothing other than a track to bounce around to, the same can be said for “No Reprieve” (my favourite of the album), “A Slow Reaction” and any other track you care to name. Unsane seem to live by a simple moto – Make noise, if it ain’t broke, don’t fuck with it! I think that is a great way to create music!
But you know, listening to Sterilize has made me realise how good Unsane are and what they bring to the world. I do not listen to Unsane to hear anything other than a Hardcore band performing at their very best. I listen to Unsane to hear those bass riffs to lose myself in, I listen out for frantic songs to focus on, I listen to hear a loud band and on Sterilize they achieve this and then some. It is great to hear them again, it is even better to hear an album that matches anything produced by their younger rivals. For thirty-seven minutes I could leave the world and focus on this massive album, what more do you want from an album?
Rating: 4/5 – Ouch, ouch, ouch
Top track – “No Reprieve”